Spring Time And It's Affect On The Horse’s Hoof.
Doug Buck, Buck Farrier and Forge, Canadian Farrier Team Alumni
With the end of the cold dry winter months and now spring conditions you will find that your horse’s hooves will be under new stress.
Coming from hard frozen conditions to long term wet causes the hoof to become softer and the sole typically drops slightly. Hooves tend to spread and lose strength in the walls. Hence nails are not as strong and commonly the hoof capsule spreads. This means that the horse might need a slightly larger fit shoe to compensate. Negative influences include thrush, abscesses and the aggravating shoe pulls during turn out. It always seems to happen every spring just as we approach show season and it can hinder or even make us lose riding time and miss shows.
So what to do as horse owners and farriers? We know one of the most detrimental things to hoof health and strength is wetness. Recognizing our horses’ need to go out regardless of weather within reason here are some tips on how to compensate:
Hooves need and should b cleaned out after turn in. Getting mud out will help the hoof dry out, let air in (oxygen kills most surface fungus that causes thrush) and lets you monitor for anything like gravel and foreign objects that might set up abscesses.
Deep bedding is really important not only to support the arch of the hoof but also to absorb excess moisture.
A good conditioner applied routinely will help maintain good flexibility and help repel water. On a side note research shows that when horses are bathed it is very beneficial to dry the hooves and then apply conditioner. That really helps in the summer months.
And to wrap up, a good regular farrier program is important to keep on top of any of the issues we've covered. To keep the hoof able to do its job, I suggest a 4-6 weeks interval.